Young Thug’s lawyer defends rapper’s violent lyrics

By Le Figaro with AFP


Rapper Young Thug has been in custody since his arrest in May 2022. MICHAEL TULLBERG / Getty Images via AFP

The trial of the 32-year-old American rapper is in full swing in the United States and the judges have retained several sentences from his texts as evidence to incriminate him. A harsh reality but not an admission of crimes, according to his lawyer.

This is the environment he grew up in“. The lawyer for American rapper Young Thug, on trial for organized crime in Atlanta, ured Tuesday that the verses of his songs describe a harsh reality but do not constitute evidence against him.

Arrested in May 2022 and held since in detention, the 32-year-old artist, influential figure in hip-hop, is accused of having led one of the branches of an Atlanta street gang identified as “Youg Slime Life”, or YSL . In support of the accusation against the gang, alleged acts of murder, drug trafficking or violent car thefts.

His texts as proof

Prosecutors rely in particular, as evidence, on certain lyrics of Young Thug’s songs, supposed to demonstrate his participation in criminal activities, a method criticized by defenders of freedom of expression and players in the music industry. For his lawyer, Brian Steel, Young Thug’s verses describing murders, shootings or drug trafficking, “it’s the environment he grew up in, it’s the people he knew, the stories he knew» in his poor neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia (South).

During his opening argument, the day after that of the prosecution, the lawyer added that the rapper aspired to success and fame to “break generational despair» of his family and that his personal experience had fueled a deep distrust of justice and the authorities. Brian Steel described a scene where one of the rapper’s brothers was shot near their apartment building and police handcuffed his desperate mother and covered the victim with a sheet while she was still breathing.

False rivalries on social networks

According to the lawyer, Young Thug engaged in feuds on social media not as a gang member, but to “generate interest» for his work, as is often the case in the rap industry. “You will learn that this is part of being involved in hip-hop or rapsaid Brian Steel, drawing a parallel with sport. “Social media battles spark interest, as do NFL rivalries», the American football championship, he compared.

The prosecution retained 17 extracts from Young Thug’s songs which constitute confessions to the crimes of which the rapper is accused. After the opening arguments, the trial, which takes place before a popular jury, is likely to last several months and continue into 2024.

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